The Composers on the Hatch Shell

A notable feature of the Hatch Shell is the names of composers emblazoned on it.​

​The decision of which names to memorialize on the new Shell, in 1940, fell to Arthur Fiedler and Serge Koussevitzky, BSO conductor at the time. They felt overwhelmed by the decision and decided to put the issue out to others. In the end, they put the names of 97 composers on a ballot and sent it out to 67 local musicians, music writers, and concert-goers and asked them to vote on who was the greatest! Each voter was to select 50 names from among the 97. ​

A press report from the time explained that “in a commendable effort to avoid any more controversy than necessary, no living composers were included.’’ However, Sibelius and Stravinsky “may be added” because “musically speaking, their life work is about over.” Composers were grouped into seven genres: Pre-classical, Classical, Romantic, Modern, Operatic, American, and Popular. There was a unanimous consensus on Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Debussy, and Wagner. Schuman and Schubert missed unanimity by one vote. The American composer with the most votes was MacDowell. ​

The results of the vote were provided to the architect who had freedom in choosing the final list so that the letters would fit on the Hatch Shell.​

Only two names added since the completion of the Shell in 1940.  John Williams in 1993 and Amy Beach in 2000. Williams, the former Pops Conductor and well-known composer is the only living composer whose name is on the Shell. Beach, a renowned Boston composer whose Gaelic Symphony was premiered by the BSO in 1896, is the only woman whose name is on the Shell. Their names are found on the very top tier of the granite on either side of the stage.

Below is a complete list of the 87 names on the Hatch Shell:

  • ALBENIZ
  • AUBER
  • BEACH
  • BEETHOVEN
  • BELLINI
  • BERLIOZ
  • BIZET
  • BOCCHERINI
  • BORODIN
  • BRAHMS
  • BRUCKNER
  • BUXTEHUDE
  • BYRD
  • CHABRIER
  • CHADWICK
  • CHERUBINI
  • CHOPIN
  • CORELLI
  • COUPERIN
  • DEBUSSY
  • DELIBES
  • DINDY
  • DONIZETTI
  • DUKAS
  • DVORAK
  • ELGAR
  • FAURE
  • FOOTE
  • FOSTER
  • FRANCK
  • GERSHWIN
  • GILBERT
  • GLAZOUNOV
  • GLUCK
  • GOUNOD
  • GRETRY
  • GRIEG
  • GRIFFES
  • HADLEY
  • HANDEL
  • HAYDN
  • HERBERT
  • HUMPERDINCK
  • LASSO
  • LEONCAVALLO
  • LISZT
  • LOEFFLER
  • LULLY
  • MACDOWELL
  • MAHLER
  • MASON
  • MASSENET
  • MENDELSSOHN
  • MEYERBEER
  • MONTEVERDI
  • MOUSSORGSKY
  • MOZART
  • OFFENBACH
  • PAINE
  • PALESTRINA
  • PUCCINI
  • PURCELL
  • RAMEAU
  • RAVEL
  • RESPIGHI
  • RIMSKY KORSAKOV
  • ROSSINI
  • RUBINSTEIN
  • ROUSSEL
  • SAINT-SAENS
  • SCARLATTI
  • SCHBERT
  • SCHUMANN
  • SCRIABIN
  • SIBELIUS
  • SMETANA
  • SOUSA
  • STRAUSS
  • STRAVINSKY
  • SULLIVAN
  • TCHAIKOVSKY
  • VERDI
  • VIVALDI 
  • WAGNER
  • WEBER
  • WILLIAMS
  • WOLF